15. Caring for Your Batteries from Birth to Retirement 7

GUIDE: Batteries in a portable world. 15. Caring for Your Batteries from Birth to Retirement 7

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15.6 Battery Warranty

Some manufacturers of industrial batteries provide warranties of up to 18 months. A free exchange is offered if the battery fails to meet 80 percent of the rated capacity throughout the warranty period. (I hasten to mention that these warranty policies apply to markets other than mobile phones.)

But what happens if such a battery is returned for warranty? Will the dealer replace the pack without hesitation? Rarely.

With lack of battery standards, manufacturers are free to challenge warranty claims, even if a genuine problem exists. Many batteries reveal only the chemistry and voltage on the label and do not make reference to the milliampere-hour rating (mAh). How does the user know what capacity rating to use when testing the battery? What performance standards can be applied?

On battery packs that show the mAh rating, some battery manufacturers may have used the peak capacity rating. This is done for promotional reasons to make their packs look better than the competitor’s. Peak capacity is based on a lower discharge rate because a battery produces higher readings if discharged slowly. For warranty purposes, a discharge of 1C should be used.

Regulatory authorities stress the importance of marking all batteries with the average capacity rating. Portable batteries with a capacity of up to about 2A should be rated at a 1C discharge. Batteries above that capacity may be rated at 0.5C. No true standard exists in term of capacity rating.

With the increased popularity of battery analyzers, battery manufacturers and dealers are urged to follow industry-accepted standards regarding battery ratings. In an attempt to lower warranty claims, some battery manufacturers have moderated the published ratings of some batteries to be more consistent with reality.

Manufacturers are concerned about the high cost of providing free replacement batteries and disposing of returned units. If a battery analyzer is used, failures due to fading capacity can mostly be corrected. Warranty claims are exercised only on those packs that develop a genuine failure. If fewer batteries returned, the vendor can offer better pricing.

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